John Lackey's first two starts with the Cardinals produced a wide variance of results. As the Cards return to Busch Stadium on Thursday to face the Padres after a six-game road trip, they hope that the "good Lackey" will show up too.
Lackey's Aug. 3 St. Louis debut at home against the Brewers produced seven solid innings before his next outing on the road at Baltimore resulted in nine earned runs in five disastrous innings -- his first nine-run outing since 2011.
Lackey himself, though, thinks he simply ran into a hot team in the Orioles, his old American League East rival. They certainly battered the veteran righty, tagging him for nine runs and 13 hits (three home runs) with two walks and just three strikeouts.
"You got to give them a lot of credit," Lackey said. "They're swinging the bats well. Hits were falling in. A couple of them were hit real hard and they went out of the yard."
He'll look to rebound against the Padres and Eric Stults, who have both performed much better as of late.
San Diego holds the best record in the National League (16-8) since the All-Star break, and Stults has allowed just one earned run in his last two victorious starts spanning 12 2/3 innings.
The left-hander still leads the NL in losses (13), though, after a rough first half.
"It's nice to just have a win," Stults said after holding Pittsburgh to one run in six innings on Saturday. "This year has been a little frustrating."
Cardinals: Matheny thinks hitting will turn around
After the Cardinals were outscored 34-18 in the first five games on their road trip, manager Mike Matheny decided it was time they shook up their pregame routine ever so slightly before their contest against the Marlins on Wednesday.
Matheny had his players skip regular batting practice for more time in the cage. He said he tries to get his team in there at least once per series, but Wednesday seemed like the best opportunity to do so with the team slumping and heading back home.
"It's just a matter of trying to maximize the work that we're doing here and not coming out and doing things just because that's the way we normally do," Matheny said.
The Cardinals ended up with five runs and 10 hits in 36 at-bats (.277) in a 5-2 series-ending victory. They finished batting .265 (56-for-211) on the six-game road trip.
"We have a few guys who have been solely doing their stuff in the cage and have been swinging the bat well, so I think there's something to be noted there," Matheny said. "Sometimes taking a little different approach can make a difference."
Padres: A historic night
As it turns out, Tuesday was a historic night for the Padres, as the team had seven players in the starting lineup of Latin descent -- three born in Cuba, two born in Venezuela and two others born in the Dominican Republic.
According to Elias, that marked the first time in club history the team fielded a starting lineup with at least seven Latin American players.
First baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal and starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne hail from Cuba. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte and shortstop Alexi Amarista are from Venezuela, and outfielders Abraham Almonte and Rymer Liriano, who made his Major League debut on Monday, are from the Dominican Republic.
• In a sweep of the Rockies this week, the Padres' pitching staff set a new franchise record with 37 strikeouts in a three-game series.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him at @WillLaws This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.